Top Ten

September 15, 2017

Universities look to bolster arts & humanities’ broad appeal with hybrid programs

Universities across Canada are looking to create the arts and humanities degree of the future by integrating traditional offerings with other disciplines, reports Andrea Janus for the Toronto Star. The author explores how programs at McMaster University, the University of Waterloo, and Carleton University have worked to combine the humanities with disciplines such as commerce, biology, and business. For Anna Moro, associate dean (academic) in the faculty of humanities at McMaster, one of the strongest benefits of these hybrid programs is that they give students a greater sense of their future employment opportunities. “Even when they come in knowing what they want to do, English or philosophy or linguistics, they feel the pressure—peer pressure or parental pressure—of, ‘What are you going to do with that?’” says Moro. Toronto Star

New university students’ wellbeing connected to thinking peers are more social: UBC study

New university students consistently think that their peers have more friends and spend more time socializing, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Medical School. The study further found that even if this is demonstrably not the case, the mere belief that others are more social affects students’ wellbeing and sense of belonging. The study used data from a survey of 1,099 first-year students at UBC, and found that a greater proportion of students (48%) believed that other students had made more close friends than they did, while only 31% believed the opposite. A second survey tracking 389 students across their first year found that students who believed their peers had more friends at the beginning of the year reported lower levels of wellbeing. UBC

YorkU to become home to largest telescope on a Canadian university campus

York University is reportedly set to install the largest telescope on any university campus in Canada, thanks to a $500K donation from the Carswell Family Foundation. The donation will be matched by YorkU’s Faculty of Science for a $1M total contribution in support of the new one-metre custom telescope. A YorkU release states that the telescope will enhance the hands-on learning experience and undergraduate research opportunities for YorkU students. “This generous gift to the Faculty of Science from Allan Carswell and the Carswell Family Foundation will further enhance student learning and community outreach, two of our core priorities at York University,” said President Rhonda Lenton. YorkU

Time to end the “moral panic” over student cheating: THE contributor

“Academics have never entirely trusted students not to cheat. But the current level of institutionalised distrust of students has reached such a pitch that it seems reasonable to call it a moral panic,” writes Liam Anslow. The author notes that there are countless pieces published today about the scourge of cheating in PSE, yet argues that there is no evidence to suggest that cheating is any more prevalent today than it was in the past. Anslow cites a 2012 study of doctoral students showing that incidents of plagiarism have fallen since the early to mid-1990s, and a 2014 large-scale study showing that the majority of student plagiarism is accidental. “Like all moral panics, fears about the level and effects of student cheating are being blown out of all proportion,” the author concludes. “We need to call off the witch-hunt and trust in the capacity of our students to learn.” Times Higher Education

Guidelines for accepting a position at a cash-strapped institution

“Should I consider a position with an institution facing financial challenges?” This is the question that a growing number of PSE professionals have begun asking themselves, writes Judith White. The author’s first piece of advice to professionals in this situation is to find a financial expert to help assess the institution’s position. Further, White notes that one should assess an institution’s positions based on three categories of financial challenges, which are mismanagement, poor investments and revenue shortfalls, and other challenges. The author goes on to identify personal, financial, organizational questions that one should ask before accepting a job at a school in financial difficulty. Inside Higher Ed

Collège Shawinigan receives $6.1M to upgrade research centre

The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec are investing $6.1M in Collège Shawinigan to upgrade the school’s research centre and bring it in line with biosafety and fire protection standards. The school will also use the funds to expand and redesign labs and offices at the Centre national en électrochimie et en technologies environnementales (CNETE). Thanks to this investment, the CNETE will also be equipped with a nanotechnology lab to meet growing industry needs. “The timing of this investment is perfect,” said Guy Dumais, directeur général at Collège Shawinigan and CNETE board chair. “The expansion and bringing up to standard of our research centre allows us to not only continue our activities but also develop more innovative processes and solidify CNETE’s position as a leader in technology innovation.” Canada

The death of Beall’s “unscrupulous” journal list and its impact on open access

Why, after spending five years curating a list of over a thousand “unscrupulous” scientific journals, did University of Colorado at Denver librarian Jeffrey Beall abruptly shutter his list? To answer this, Paul Basken investigates a number of prime suspects who may have forced Beall’s hand, ranging from internal pressures at his own university to Swiss publishers who were angry at discovering themselves on the list. Basken highlights a number of issues that have been left unresolved in the wake of the list's stoppage, including questions around who shoulders the blame for predatory journals, how to accurately identify predatory journals, and how to evaluate a journal’s quality through more than peer-review. Chronicle of Higher Education

MUN Marine Institute receives $4.7M for ecosystem restoration project

The Canadian government is investing $4.7M over five years to support the Marine Institute at Memorial University to restore the ecosystem in Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay. A federal release states that the project will benefit fish and shellfish resources in coastal waters by restoring eelgrass beds and deploying artificial reefs. “Projects of this magnitude and importance are the reason why the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research was created,” said Marine Institute Vice-President Glenn Blackwood. Southern Gazette

GPRC pilots mentorship program for Indigenous students

Grande Prairie Regional College has launched the pilot of its new Indigenous Peer Mentorship Program (IPMP), which offers social and academic support to Indigenous students. “Initiatives such as this builds on the College’s wide range of services that help Indigenous students integrate more completely into student life and achieve academic success,” stated GPRC Vice-President Academics and Research Susan Bansgrove. The program connects Indigenous students to mentors who help them transition into college, which helps the student succeed academically and make meaningful connections. “We will research the effectiveness of the pilot and how to further incorporate technology that will support the mentorship process,” said IPMP initiative leader and GPRC instructor Kirsten Mikkelsen. GPRC

URegina program helps elementary teachers feel more comfortable with math

A new University of Regina program aims to help elementary school math teachers and instructors fill in their knowledge gaps when it comes to teaching math. The 10-course certificate, which is delivered after school hours over two years, focuses on improving the teachers’ understanding of mathematical concepts in addition to teaching pedagogy. “[Elementary school teachers are] generalists and they're going to teach a number of subjects, and so we decided that it was important to offer more professional development in mathematics and teaching it,” said URegina Professor of Mathematics Education Kathy Nolan. CBC